To define digital literacy accurately is difficult because it’s very subjective. There are so many different definitions floating around out there. After googling the term digital literacy, I found it is two diverse ideas. Let me explain…
Wikipedia defines digital literacy as the ability to effectively and critically navigate, evaluate and create information using a range of digital technologies. It requires one “to recognize and use that power, to manipulate and transform digital media, to distribute pervasively, and to easily adapt them to new forms”.
Microsoft has a totally different take on what they consider to be digital literacy, it’s far more skills oriented. Digital Literacy Home –Whether you are new to computing or have some experience, this curriculum will help you develop a fundamental understanding of computers. The courses help you learn the essential skills to begin computing with confidence, be more productive at home and at work, stay safe online, use technology to complement your lifestyle, and consider careers where you can put your skills to work.
What does it mean to be digitally literate? How can we determine what is necessary for someone to become digitally literate? The answer may be changing constantly, as new devices, tools and services appear and are rapidly adopted by individuals everywhere. To reference literacies and skills as interchangeable terms doesn’t work with my understanding of the two. Skills are essential elements for any practice. Literacies take us beyond functionality into a deeper level of participation. Literacies reach far beyond a basic skill. In the culture of texting or e-mail, most people know that using CAPITAL LETTERS is tantamount to shouting, this is a skill or appropriate etiquette. Literacy takes place when a child steps out of their comfort zone and digs deeper, ultimately a student can transfer or take what’s learned in one situation and apply it to another.
If we establish the ground rules early on, of what is expected and what is not, and if we harness the curiosity and allow for creativity, kids will have a much more productive experience. Project based learning that calls for an end result to share is more engaging than traditional text tasks. A lot of learning comes from doing, making and problem solving. Learning in the digital world is much more exciting and engaging. Learning through failure and experimentation is an important lesson that often gets overlooked. Technology encourages users to generate their own content. We know that active forms of learning are better than passive forms. One result is deeper learning. Active learning is encouraged when students need to do something, solve a problem or produce something related to the content they are studying.
It is critical that we teach kids to understand how to use the technology, at their fingertips, in responsible and productive ways, as well as for entertainment. We also need to teach them the difference between the two. They need to know what is expected in a more formal setting such as school and what is appropriate in other areas of their lives. I’m sure there will be lots of very different forms of digital literacy policies. Hopefully, the underlying message will be one of excitement, the possibilities are endless.